“Underestimated from day one. You’d never think I was a master of the universe, now would ya?” (John Milton: Devil’s Advocate).
Welcome to the first edition of ‘Underdogs’, a regular feature in which we’ll be looking at various figures who’ve managed to achieve greatness even though they were underestimated.
Our first ‘Underdog’, Augustus Octavian Caesar, skillfully navigated Ancient Rome’s Machiavellian culture, and in the process became Rome’s first Emperor.
Early Life & Career
Augustus, also called Augustus Caesar or Octavian, original name Gaius Octavius, adopted the name Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus from Julius Caesar, who was his great-uncle and adoptive father. He was at Apollonia (now in Albania) completing his academic and military studies when, in 44 BCE, he learned that Julius Caesar had been murdered on the infamous ‘Ides Of March’.
Returning to Italy, he was told that Caesar in his will had adopted him as his son and had made him his chief personal heir. He was only 18 .
Cicero, the famous orator who was one of Rome’s principal elder statesmen, hoped to make use of Octavian in order to suit his own designs in Rome, but underestimated Octavian’s abilities.
The Senate, encouraged by Cicero, granted Octavian the rank of Senator in spite of his youth, and sought his assistance in the Battle to defeat War Lord, Mark Antony who intended to take over Rome following Julius Caesar’s death.
Octavian soon reached an agreement with Antony, and proceeded to execute 300 Senators, one of whom was Antony’s enemy Cicero, the very man who had facilitated Octavian’s appointment as Rome’s youngest Senator.
Octavian and Antony were to cross swords in a final showdown for supremacy that led to Cleopatra and Antony’s infamous suicide in Egypt following their defeat by Octavian’s fleet at the Battle of Actium.
This made Octavian master of the entire Greco-Roman world, and from this point on, by a long and gradual series of tentative, patient measures, he established the Roman Principate, a system of government that enabled him to maintain, in all essentials, absolute control.
Augustus was one of the great administrative geniuses of history. The gigantic work of reorganization that he carried out in every field of Roman life and throughout the entire empire not only transformed the decaying Republic into a new, Monarchic regime with many centuries of life ahead of it but also created a durable Roman peace, based on easy communications and flourishing trade.
This ensured the survival and eventual transmission of the classical heritage, Greek and Roman alike, and provided the means for the diffusion of Judaism and Christianity.
Numerous architectural masterpieces also serve as a reminder of his reign. Check out the links below for more on Octavian, including the video clip of a scene from the classic HBO Series ‘Rome’ in which Cicero makes the motion for his appointment as Rome’s youngest Senator…….Classic!
Next up is Part 2 of our Health and Longevity Series as we take a look at the world of Genetically Modified Foods. You can now also download the Culture Lounge App on Google Play for those who prefer browsing in app, so you can have the same experience of the Page you were used to on Facebook, instead of using a Browser to access the articles via the Website.
To the Underdogs…..One!
Links & Credits
Octavian Bio: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Augustus-Roman-emperor
Octavian & Cicero: http://barrystrauss.com/a-leadership-lesson-from-cicero/
Octavian & Mark Antony: https://savemyatar.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/conflict-between-mark-antony-and-octavian/
‘Rome’ Scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOlgZo5e7gI